Most of my recent travels were in the rural seacoast areas of southern Funen in Denmark. But a couple of short trips to the capital city confirmed my wish to see more of Copenhagen. I am drawn to water wherever I travel, and cities that embrace their waterfronts hold a special appeal. Copenhagen invites a slow pace – a city to be explored on foot or bike, with an occasional water taxi and metro ride thrown in. With so much to see, and so many sights beckoning for attention, walking allowed me a closer, richer look. Some driving within and on the outskirts of the town center provided a broader brush stroke of impressions and brought other rewards. Construction scars and growing pains were on view along with bold new buildings.
On the map these days for innovative architecture, design, and nordic food, Copenhagen offers the historic charm of narrow cobblestone streets, outdoor markets, brightly colored buildings, castles, towers, canals, bridges, church spires and gardens – along with construction zones, torn up streets, abandoned lots and graffiti. Art and sculpture is readily available on the streets, in future building sites and in museums – much of it free. Picnic meals and bakery stops made it possible to squeeze in a long couple of days on a tight budget in an otherwise expensive city.
The weather was a mix of sun and clouds – and without an umbrella – the sudden showers of short, intense rain required several dashes for cover under the closest stone bridge or covered archway. And gave me a surprise glimpse of a secret inner courtyard, a family party and a wedding celebration – and the friendliness of strangers and residents. Rain or shine – the canals, streets, squares and parks were bustling with activity – a bocci tournament, people swimming, kayaking, running, bicycling, playing, picnicking, café hopping and shopping.
As a visitor I cannot grasp the reality of living day-to-day in a place. And though I was not blind to the aches and pains, the grit, and the political unrest visible, I was still charmed by Copenhagen. With outside street experiences as rich as the inside of the museums – I could easily have lingered much, much longer.